Cool IT leaders needed to tackle global warming

Press release - 27 May, 2009
Despite having the massive potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the IT industry is not yet delivering it, according to the first results of Greenpeace’s Cool IT Challenge(1).

"While governments across the globe are debating climate-saving policy, it is disappointing that innovative IT companies who stand to profit handsomely from tech solutions that reduce greenhouse gases, are sitting on the fence when itcomes to advocating for science-based greenhouse gas emissions cuts,” said Zeina Al Hajj, head of Greenpeace International's Toxics Campaign, speaking atthe IT, Environment and Climate Change conference(2) in Copenhagen today.

The IT industry calculates that it could enable more than 15% cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020(3). However, the IT industry needs to look beyond just cutting its own internal emissions and deliver climate solutions for the rest of the economy. At the same time, it must urgently use its influence to call upon world leaders to deliver a climate-saving deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December.

Greenpeace’s Cool IT Challenge was launched in February this year with a letter to the CEOs of the major IT companies asking them to take action to prioritise climate change in 2009. The CEOs were asked to show leadership(4)by:

  • Providing IT solutions and accurately measuring the impact of the solutions they propose for the rest of the economy, in areas such as electricity grid transmission, transport, and building efficiency.
  • Lobbying for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen; a deal that will stimulate an increase in demand for IT-driven climate solutions by the rest of the economy(5); and
  • Reducing their own emissions and increasing their use of renewable energy.

The few bright spots in the scorecard showing the initial results of the Cool IT Challenge include Sun Microsystems, which has called publicly for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, and a cut of atleast 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

IBM is in the joint-lead with Sun, mainly due to its wide range of solutions. Additionally, Fujitsu stands out as a company openly addressing the need to measure ‘net’ emissions reductions that result from the solutions they propose for the rest of the economy.

However,leading names such as HP, Microsoft and Sony, among other IT giants, score less than 15 points out of the maximum of 100 available.(6)

“The majority of IT companies talk big about ‘going green’, rather than giving any real evidence of how their software and hardware is actually reducing emissions. It is high time they put their money where their mouths are and deliver real evidence of their solutions in action,” said Greenpeace International Climate Campaigner Melanie Francis.

Like Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics(7), the Cool IT Challenge will be updated regularly, with the second version coming late summer. Time is already running out, and if the IT industry is to rapidly help enable a low-carbon economy its leaders need to take a strong stand on tackling climate change. The Cool IT Challenge is open to all the big names in the IT industry who are able to show real climate leadership.

Other contacts: Prajna Khanna, Greenpeace International, Communications Project Manager Toxics: Tel: + 31 (0) 20 718 2621, Mobile: + 31 (0) 6 212 96896, email:
Melanie Francis, Greenpeace International Climate Campaigner:Tel: +31(0) 207182340, Mobile: +31(0)653819121, email:
Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner: Mobile: +44 7801 212 992, email:
Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner (US time zone):Mobile: +1 415 307 3382, email:

Notes: 1. http://www.greenpeace.org/coolit
2. http://www.oecd.org/sti/ict/green-ict
3. http://www.smart2020.org/
4. http://www.greenpeace.org/coolit/criteria
5. A peak in global emissions by 2015 followed by a rapid decline to as close to zero as possible by 2050 is crucial to protect the climate. The industrialised world must commit to deeper cuts in emissions and provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries to enable them to switch to clean energy, stop deforestation and adapt to those climate impacts that are now unavoidable. More information is available at www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/climate-demands
6. http://www.greenpeace.org/coolit/scores
7. http://www.greenpeace.org/rankingguide

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